I Play With Judgey Apps (So You Don’t Have To)

Sometimes, in rare moments of clarity, I realize that free time is completely wasted on me.

Because as much as I daydream about meditating and getting to all those fabulous books I’ve been meaning to read, my actual free time usually involves a lot of Netflix and internet rabbit holes.

Like yesterday evening, when I spent half the night uploading selfies to figure out whether or not I’m cute.

You mean, people will have all the world’s knowledge available for free and they’ll use it to find out what friends ate for lunch?
That’s right, all of humankind’s collected wisdom at my fingertips…  and I choose to watch people injure themselves hilariously or ask robots if they think I’m hot.


Hey, don’t judge me. You know you’re curious too, or you wouldn’t still be reading this. Our society puts a premium on youth and beauty, but it can be hard to figure out where you stand. There’s just so much paranoia and social sugarcoating confusing things.

So if you’re wanting a more objective opinion, I’ve found some websites offering fresh, ingenious ways to help you obsess:

This Microsoft app won’t tell you how cute you are, but it will tell you how old you look. They use virtual intelligence to measure whatever factors signal age in your face.

You can either use random photos or upload your own, which is what you’ll obviously do because why would you care how old a computer thinks a random stranger is?

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 3.48.56 PM.png
In case those passive-aggressive birthday cards weren’t enough

My take:

This app is interesting, but its answers varied quite a bit. Depending on the angle, it rated me anywhere from 20 to 39. That’s a big spread, just enough to tell me I won’t be talking my way into child or senior citizen discounts anytime soon.

On the one hand, I liked that it usually shaved off some years, but on the other, I now have a weird paranoia about looking ten years older if I hold my head wrong.

For fun, I also ran a photo of my daughter when she was three. It thought she was five.

I figure I’ll be keeping that to myself so she won’t get a complex about her age. I mean, that’s like telling a 21-year-old they look 35.

This soul-crushing nightmare was unleashed by the Swiss researchers of Blinq. It tells you how attractive you are and they created it by infusing an enormous amount of celebrity photos with the personal preferences of their dating site’s members.

I mostly could only pull off a “nice” rating on this thing, which sounds reassuring except there are three levels higher than that. Suddenly, “nice” seems like a kinder way of saying my face won’t instantly make Swiss people throw up.

Maybe it depends on whether the ratings are based on an even-spacing of all of humanity’s cuteness possibilities (where “nice” becomes the midpoint between being gorgeous and vomit-inducing), or whether attractiveness is based more on a pyramid with only a select few at the top (like wealth).

At any rate, the only photo of me to receive a coveted “stunning” rating was from three years ago when my hair was bleached super-blonde. So being the fair-minded, objective person I am,  I instantly declared the application racist and wrote off the rest of the results.

Just let me believe the app is racist, guys. I need this.

My take:

Since ratings are based on user preferences, I figure they measure what’s currently trendy.

After all, preferences change over time as different looks become fashionable. For example,  Mary Pickford was the cat’s pajamas of the 1920’s and while she’d still be considered cute today, she couldn’t work as a supermodel.

For fun, I ran a picture of Mary Pickford and she received the underwhelming “nice” rating too. So there.

Not impressing the Swiss

This is a photo retouching site that rates your attractiveness before and after they work their Photoshop magic. They even give you in-depth, feature-by-feature ratings to let you know how your individual parts stack up.

Since they kept telling me what a goddess I am, I absolutely loved it. It’s just what I needed after Switzerland called me average, at best.

Despite lengthening my chin in the “after “photos, they kept heaping so much praise on me that I finally started wondering what was up.

I decided to establish a control.  I started uploading photos of weird-looking people off the web…. I mean truly weird-looking people, the kind whose photos go viral for running around Walmart looking inbred.

And they were ALL considered cute, confirming my suspicions. Dang it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 3.56.42 PM.png
Even Emperor Palpatine gets an eight

My take:

This is a great website to help you feel better about yourself, but it’s awfully generous.

This site has you upload your photo then drag markers to various locations around your face. It essentially uses the Golden Ratio to measure their proportions and symmetry, then tells you where you fall on a one-to-ten scale.

It also breaks down what ratios are good and bad, so you can pinpoint exactly what’s jacking up your face. What could go wrong?

I scored solid 8 point somethings across various photos, which I found reassuring. One confounding factor, though, is that ear length is used in many of the measurements and I had a hard time taking a front-facing photo where you could see both the tops and bottoms of my ears.

So my ears are unusually flat against my head. Who knew? I had to keep estimating where my ears ended, which might have thrown off the results.

I also found out my eyes are widely set. Out of all the petty flaws I obsess about, this one was a complete revelation. If it weren’t for Anaface, I might’ve gone the rest of my life without a clue about my eyes being too far apart.

My face would make a passable Parthenon

My take:

Since the Golden Ratio has been used to determine beauty in everything from human bodies to architecture for thousands of years, I figure Anaface measures what we call “classic” beauty, the type that stands the test of time but isn’t particularly trendy.

And since Anaface liked me better than Blinq, I’m guessing I would’ve been more popular in Ancient Greece than modern-day Switzerland. At least there are no Ancient Greeks still around to argue with me on this point.

In the end:

There are so many definitions of beauty that it’s impossible to really nail it down. Some experts think it’s all about looking very average, for example, whereas others think it’s about looking like an exaggerated boy or girl.

We don’t even all agree on how cute celebrities are, and those folks make millions off their looks. For every heartthrob out there, there’s a bunch of people who don’t get all the fuss.

Plus, our definitions change over time. Angelina Jolie is considered gorgeous now, but would’ve probably been too “exotic-looking” back in the 1950’s. On the other hand, actresses from the fifties would be considered chunky today.

So while these sites are fun to play with, don’t lose any sleep over them. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I wholeheartedly agree… even if I did waste half a night trying to find out.

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